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Project Rachel Ministry Consecration

The Project Rachel Ministry at the Diocese of Burlington now has an official patron: St. Therese of Lisieux.
The Project Rachel Ministry Consecration to St. Therese Mass will take place June 23 at 9:30 a.m. at the chapel in the diocesan office building at 55 Joy Drive in South Burlington.
Thanks to the efforts of Lori Daudelin, a relic of St. Therese has been entrusted to the care of the Project Rachel Ministry, which is dedicated to providing outreach, pastoral care, counseling and opportunities for healing for those who have been involved in abortion. The relic is encased in a reliquary prepared by Kathleen Messier, assistant archivist for the Diocese of Burlington. It will be present at all retreats and events of the Project Rachel Ministry, which operates a confidential hotline, a counseling network and healing retreats.
When not in official use, the St. Therese Relic is at Daudelin’s desk; she answers Project Rachel hotline calls.
“With her ‘Little Way,’ Saint Therese offers the world the very much needed message that because of our sinfulness we should not run away from Jesus, but we should run toward Jesus – we should run directly into His arms,” Daudelin explained. “It is only in the Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus that we can find true hope and healing. Who better than this saint who understood her sinfulness, but also knew the depth of God’s love for her, to be the patron of and intercede on behalf of this very important ministry of the Church?”
The Consecration Mass will take place on June 23, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Msgr. Richard Lavalley, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Winooski, will be the celebrant. A light reception will follow.

Project Rachel

By Tom Grenchik, executive director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
For any of us who have joined in a Divine Mercy Chaplet a few times, the response is automatic.  We simply hear: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion…” and our lips are already responding with: “Have mercy on us and on the whole world.” 
How consoling it is to embrace our Lord’s Divine Mercy and be confident in His forgiveness.  We know He will forgive any sin, if we are truly sorry. But for some, especially those who have lost a child to abortion, trusting in that forgiveness is not so easy. Even if they trust in God’s capacity and overwhelming desire to forgive them, they still often struggle with forgiving themselves. 
Many in our culture are deeply wounded, including many Catholics who are in great need of God’s mercy and healing. Twenty-eight percent of women having abortions identify themselves as Catholic, which translates into as many as 10 million Catholic women affected by abortion. An equal number of men have been involved, even if the extent of their involvement was to abandon the woman on discovering she was pregnant. Then there are the grandparents, other family members and friends who have also been affected. The impact on our culture and our Church is far-reaching.
Rare is the individual who has not encountered the trauma of abortion in the suffering of friends and family members.
Immediately after the 1973 Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion in our land, the U.S. bishops not only condemned that action, but they also prophetically called for the creation of diocesan post-abortion healing ministries as an integral part of the Church’s pro-life response. Being pro-life means being missionaries of mercy to those now suffering from a past abortion.
Project Rachel, the Catholic Church’s ministry to those who have been involved in abortion, is a diocesan-based network of specially trained priests, religious, counselors and laypersons who provide a team response of care for those suffering in the aftermath of abortion. In addition to offering sacramental reconciliation, the ministry provides an integrated network of services, including pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, support groups, retreats and referrals to licensed mental health professionals. For many who struggle with accepting God’s forgiveness, Project Rachel can gently open the door to embracing His forgiveness and mercy, as well as learning to forgive oneself and praying for the forgiveness of one’s child.  
In a homily as chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Boston Cardinal Seán Malley stated: “The Good News is that God never gives up on us. He never tires of loving us. He never tires of forgiving us, never tires of giving us another chance. The Pro-Life Movement needs to be the merciful face of God....”  
The bishops are firmly committed to extending that offer of God’s infinite mercy. More and more dioceses are increasing their pastoral outreach to women and men who have lost a child to abortion.
To find information on the Church’s resources near to you or a loved one, visit HopeAfterAbortion.org or EsperanzaPosAborto.org.
For information about the Project Rachel Ministry in the Diocese of Burlington, go
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This article was originally published March 21, 2014, in the USCCB Life Issues Forum.
  • Published in Nation

Project Rachel: Providing post-abortion hope, healing

More than two dozen priests gathered at Holy Family Parish Center in Essex Center on Jan. 13 for "Project Rachel: Providing Hope and Healing in the Year of Mercy," a five-hour training session focusing on post-abortion trauma and the healing power of sacramental confession.

A Catholic Church-sponsored post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel comprises a network of specially trained caregivers, including priests, lay staff, volunteers and mental health professionals. In the Diocese of Burlington, Project Rachel operates an anonymous hotline and offers both day-and weekend-long retreats focusing on individual healing in a group setting (See information on page 18).

The Jan. 13 program was aimed at helping priests identify and respond to the pastoral needs of those wounded by abortion.

"Of all the elements of Project Rachel, sacramental healing is central," said Julia Lewis, a licensed clinical mental health counselor and Project Rachel retreat Leader. She presented a session about the effects of abortion and ways to heal the wounds it causes which "are often profound and complex and affect every aspect of a person's life."

Post-abortion healing calls for special training because, she said, "it often involves psychological trauma, which requires more specialized treatment to integrate the spiritual and psychological healing."

According to the Guttmacher Institute that collects data on abortion, one in three women in the United States will have had an abortion by age 45. It also reports that 28 percent of women having abortions are Catholic.

When one considers that several people may be involved in a given abortion – such as grandparents, fathers, friends or other relatives – there are no doubt many Catholics who might need sacramental healing from involvement in abortion.

Despite this, priests don't always hear a lot of confessions about abortion, noted Father Henry P. Furman, one of the program presenters. "Here is where Project

Rachel and Rachel's Vineyard come in and why we have a five-hour inservice for priests occasionally," he said. "These apostolates can help in the healing process, in reparation for past sins."

He noted that "Vicki Thorn, the founder of Project Rachel, compared living with the memory of an abortion to holding a beach ball under water. You can do it for a while but eventually it will come up, and often quickly and forcefully."

With its emphasis on confidentiality, Project Rachel can help break long-held silences around abortion and lead to healing, said Lewis. Abortion is often shrouded in shame and silence, and for a person who has been involved in an abortion to come forward to seek healing can be very difficult. Many people wait decades after the abortion before seeking help, she explained, adding that it is not unusual for retreat participants to be in their 60s, 70s and even 80s.

It is important to the healing process for a person to know that he or she is not alone and that others have experienced similar feelings, Lewis said. The retreat experience facilitates such recognition.

It also involves a number of activities designed to help the participant find forgiveness, particularly from her-or-himself, as well as from God. Often people with post-abortion trauma don't believe they can be forgiven, and Project Rachel brings them into direct contact with God's mercy, she said.

"I've always seen the retreats as part of the new evangelization. I've seen people's faith come alive as a result of the healing that takes place. It brings people to Christ in a very powerful way," Lewis said.

  • Published in Diocesan
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